Canadian stocks are having a worse day than U.S. markets, pulled down by the financials, energy, health-care, IT and materials sectors.
The S&P/TSX index was down 1.7 per cent, or 207.95 points, to 12,022.17, late in the session, which compares to a decline of 0.89 per cent, or 12.41 points, to 1,389.9 points, for the S&P 500 in New York.
Shares of Manulife Financial have been among the hardest hit, falling as much as 4 per cent in afternoon trading. Canada's largest insurer reported a 22 per cent rise in profits, topping some analysts' expectations, thanks to strong stock markets, positive hedging results and higher sales.
Manulife also said it had hired Steve Roder to replace Michael Bell, who had announced his intention to depart weeks ago. Mr. Roder was previously the CFO at AIA Group Ltd., a large Asian life insurer.
Investors initially reacted positively to the news, but they changed course after digesting the company's full financial report.
Manulife said that it expects to take a charge of between $700-million and $800-million this quarter due to the impact of the low interest rate environment on its fixed-income reinvestment rates. That compares with a similar charge of $437-million recorded in 2011.
Shares of Gildan Activewear also reversed course in the morning and have tumbled more than 9 per cent. The sportswear company reported a 56 per cent decline in year-over-year profit, but still met analysts' expectations. It also raised full-year revenue guidance and reaffirmed its earnings outlook. But investors may be wondering about the effect of a plan to spend $88-million to buy the U.S.-based t-shirt and sports shirt supplier Anvil Holdings Inc.
Research In Motion Ltd. contributed to the overall market decline, with its shares falling more than 5 per cent and hitting an 8-year low. The stock has sunk about 15 per cent since RIM unveiled of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 software on Tuesday.
Gold producers were hit as the price of the precious metal fell for a third day on worries that Europe's worsening economy will strengthen the U.S. dollar. Shares of Goldcorp fell more than 4 per cent. Barrick Gold shares tumbled nearly 4 per cent, one day after the company reported a 3-per-cent rise in first-quarter profit and an increase in its dividend.